Woodlite headlamps
A pair of Woodlite chromium plated headlamps, £1600 at Toovey’s.

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1. Art Deco headlamps – £1600

According to patent documents dated February 1928, Woodlite headlamps invented by one William G Woods of Los Angeles, were said to give the driver better illumination of distant objects ahead. In practice, they were inferior to many other factory headlamps.

However, they were certainly stylish and for that reason alone Woodlites graced some of the most glamorous American cars of the 1930s. The Art Deco styling continues to impress today’s classic car owners.

Estimated at £80-120, this pair of Woodlite chromium plated headlamps sold for £1600 at Toovey’s in Washington, West Sussex on January 24.

2. Victorian father’s portrait – £3000

John Bagnold Burgess portrait

A portrait of the artist’s daughter by John Bagnold Burgess, £3000 at Semley Auctioneers.

The Victorian artist John Bagnold Burgess (1829-97), grandson of a painter who counted Thomas Gainsborough among his pupils, was best known as a painter of genre scenes. Many of these very Victorian subjects with titles such as Bravo Toro (1865), Stolen by Gypsies (1868) or Kissing Relics (1869) were set in Spain where Burgess was an annual visitor for 30 years. Portraits of Spanish beauties were his stock in trade.

This portrait, offered for sale at Semley Auctioneers in Shaftesbury on January 25, offered a different view of the artist’s oeuvre. Titled Ethel Burgess and dated 1871, a label and inscription verso suggests the sitter is the artist’s daughter who would later become Lady Knapp-Fisher.

Offered for sale as ‘the property of a lady’, the 15 x 12in (39 x 30cm) oil in original gilt frame was pitched at £150-250 but found plenty of admirers before selling at £3000 to a buyer using thesaleroom.com.

3. Pelham Puppet – £1400

Fish Footman Pelham puppet

A rare ‘Fish Footman’ Pelham puppet, £1400 at Hansons.

The ‘Fish Footman' puppet is among the most sought after of the entire back catalogue of Pelham Puppets. Released in 1950 as part of the Alice In Wonderland series, sales of the curious puppet paled in comparison to those of more recognisable Alice characters.

Pelham factory records from 1954 suggest that across each month, an average of just two of the Fish Footmen puppets were sold. 

This example, minus its box, appeared for sale at Hansons in Etwall, Derbyshire on January 23 where it took a double estimate £1400.

Only handful of examples have appeared previously at auction including one in its original box that took £580 at East Bristol Auctions in 2015 and another sold for £1300 during Bamford’s benchmark three-part sale of over 1500 Pelham puppets formed by well-known Lincolnshire collector Kaye Casey.

The trio of Derby sales included a record for any Pelham puppet – the £4100 bid at Bamfords of Derby in 2015 for the larger-than-life 6ft 9in (2.05m) model ‘Bimbo the Giant Clown’ that was used by Bob Pelham to promote the brand from the early 1950s.

4. Lucy Harwood street scene – £2500

Lucy Harwood painting

A street scene, probably Montmartre in Paris, by Lucy Harwood, £2500 at Anderson & Garland.

The auction at Newcastle-upon-Tyne firm Anderson & Garland on January 23 included works consigned by the family of Mary Cookson, an artist born in 1923 who studied at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing. In addition to six oils by current market favourite Cedric Morris (1889-1982) – all either purchased directly from Morris or through The Ixion Society, the Ipswich gallery that represented him – were a group of pictures by Lucy Harwood (1893-1972).

A Slade student in her youth, she became one of the East Anglian School's longest serving students, attending from its opening in Denham in 1937 and later moving to a nearby village when the school moved to Benton End in 1940. A central figure in the school social life (she insisted on a formal afternoon tea every Sunday) Harwood’s naive style of painting was admired for its vivid colour and thick confident brushstrokes. She had her first solo exhibition at The Minories, Colchester in 1975 and had further shows at Sally Hunter Fine Art.

The oils offered by Anderson & Garland performed well above the modest guides published in the catalogue. This 2ft 6in x 2ft 1in (75 x 62cm) Continental street scene, probably Montmartre in Paris, sold at £2500 (estimate £50-90), while a smaller view of dockers working the Thames waterfront, that was signed, inscribed and dated 1939, took £3000 (estimate £100-180).

Sold at £4500 (estimate £60-100) was a lot of two still lives, one with a champagne bottle, the other with a vase of yellow narcissus, each measuring 20 x 16in (50 x 40cm).

5. Bangladeshi artist’s fishing village – £6000

Zainul Abedin watercolour

A watercolour scene of the Brahmaputra river by Zainul Abedin, £6000 at Burstow & Hewitt.

Although not catalogued as such, this watercolour scene of a fishing village is signed by Zainul Abedin (1917-76) – one of Bangladesh's most renowned 20th century artists. Scenes from the banks of the Brahmaputra river where Abedin spent much of his childhood served as a source of inspiration throughout his career and appear in many of his works.

Spotted by more than one bidder at Burstow & Hewitt of Battle, East Sussex on January 22, this 17in x 2ft (43 x 60cm) watercolour leapt past its £250-350 guide to bring £6000.

A quick comparison with other works by Abedin on the market in recent years suggests that with a full attribution it could turn a profit in a specialist sale.